Syria's GDP expanded in 2010 by an estimated 5.0% compared with 3.0% in 2009. However, its current account deficit rose to -4.3% of GDP from -3.2%. Inflation continued to be managed downward and is estimated to have averaged 5.0% in 2010, down from an estimated 7.5% in 2009 and 15.2% in 2008. At the close of its first year of operations, Al Baraka Syria had increased its total assets by 92% to $108 million, including financings and investments aggregating $55 million. This growth was funded by its equity of $53 million and customer deposits including unrestricted investment accounts totaling $58 million. Its total operating income was just above $2 million and, with operating expenses totalling nearly $5 million, the bank managed to reduce its net loss from $4 million in 2009 to a little over $2 million, a not inconsiderable achievement for a new operation.
Al Baraka Syria is the first of ABG's subsidiaries to have been founded since the Group came into existence through the merger of the individual banks established by Shaikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel. Since its foundation in 2009, Al Baraka Syria has opened one branch, in the Al Mazzeh area of Damascus, in addition to its head office premises in the Saba Bahrat area of Damascus. Plans are at an advanced stage for the unveiling of branches in Aleppo (3), Homs and Hama, so that by the end of the first quarter of 2011 the bank should have 6 operating branches in addition to its head office. Its rolling 5-year plan aims to have 50 branches established by the end of 2015, of which 12 will be in place by the end of 2011.
The bank has commenced business offering a range of facilities to assist clients in the purchase of real estate, equipment, furniture and motor vehicles. From this base it plans to extend the range by introducing musawama (the purchase from retailers of specific goods at a discount which are then offered to consumers for payment over a period) and to introduce to targeted large corporates its payroll system which will be handled by its new core banking system. A money exchange and remittance service will also be offered to Syrian expatriates working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, via its correspondent bank there.
In addition to the implementation of its core banking system, Al Baraka Syria also plans to have implemented Basel II in full by 2012.
Mr. Mohammed Halabi
Chief Executive Officer
9 Tulaytulah Street, Al Malki Square,
Damascus, Syria, P. O. Box: 100, Hijaz
Tel: +96311 332 1980
Fax: +96311 331 0081